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Low Energy, Low Iron?

March 1st, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts

Somewhere in the last two weeks, I’ve lost my motivation and drive. I’m not sure where it went, but I have a faint idea it could be a combination of possibly low iron, cold weather, and potential over-training. I haven’t even felt like writing this blog post because I am not 100% sure what’s going on.

We all know running takes up a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. But after 10 years of running and racing regularly, I’m generally used to getting through the day with heavy legs after a workout or a little less sleep from an early morning run. It just becomes the way you go through life.

Tired at a college track meet

But lately, running has zapped me completely, draining any excess energy I once had to get through the day. My morning miles haven’t been leaving me feeling charged and ready to start the day, I feel completely depleted instead. I feel lightheaded and weak at work, wanting to crawl into the empty office and curl up on our bean bags and sleep  (ok, that happens on normal days, too).

I went to see a doctor last Friday but there is not much we can do until I get a blood test. I’m thinking it may be low iron again but I also wonder if its overtraining? I’m not running as much as I did during marathon training, though, so I’m not sure. I am hoping to get in for the test on today so we’ll see. Did I also mention I have an extreme phobia of blood, needles, and veins so I am popping a (prescribed!) Xanax before I go? Fun times. I will 100% still hyperventilate and cry like a 2 year old as I am on the verge of passing out.

I’ve talked about my low-iron levels in previous blog posts and it’s frustrating that this issue keeps resurfacing. I know it’s a combination of genetics (my mom, not an athlete, was so severely anemic she had blood transfusions) and running, but I have been supplementing regularly with liquid ferrous sulfate for a few months now and don’t know why I am still feeling this way. In some cases, I want my blood test to come back abnormal so I have an answer as to why I feel so crappy!

Both Megan and Kelly have written really great recent posts about iron-deficiency and anemia; go check them out if you’re interested in learning more details about this topic as they are far more articulate and research-based than anything I’d attempt.

So what can I do in the meantime? Continue taking my liquid iron with Vitamin C to help absorption, maybe add another rest day into the mix, and keep on running. With just under 3 weeks out from the half-marathon (!!!), my mileage is cutting down anyway but I want to feel motivated, confident and strong going into the race, not exhausted and shot.

Here’s to hoping my drive and energy return back soon :) Stay tuned for the results of my blood test, hopefully by the end of this week.

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9 Responses

  • Aww Lindsay, I’m sorry you’re not feeling so hot lately! I’ve never suffered from overtraining nor anemia or iron deficiency, but I’m guessing one of the two (or both?) is the culprit. You’re smart for thinking of taking extra rest days, and going to the doc. does it help you to look the other way or distract yourself with your Blackberry during bloodwork?

    Good luck and take it easy lady!

  • Kerry says:

    Make sure you get your thyroid levels checked too when you get the blood test. While it is most likely the overtraining or anemia that is causing you to feel run down, your symptoms also sound like those of hypothyroidism. It runs in my family so I am constantly getting checked for it!

  • Awe man. I have low iron and had hyperthyroid in high school, so I would DEF get those checked out as I know exactly how you are feeling. I hope you feel better asap!

  • It it so helpful for me to be reading about other female runners with potential iron issues, because it reminds me that I need to take my supplement! I am “mildly” anemic, and recently I noticed I started to feel less lethargic after taking an iron supplement. When Megan (Runner’s Kitchen) said that she would be out of breath when she goes up the stairs and thought “this doesn’t make sense given that I’m in shape”, it was a major wake up call because I was experiencing pretty extreme fatigue/light-headedness from going up stairs.
    It’s great that you are getting your blood work done to have this figured out. Will definitely be curious to see how it goes. Bah, I’m sorry about your needle phobia :( My boyfriend has a similar thing, but the more times he does it the better it is. But I understand how hard that can be.
    As for your motivation, definitely have faith that it WILL return! Everyone goes through “blah” periods with consecutive bad workouts – it happens to me more often in the winter, but I’m sure it will come back!

  • I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feelin’ out of sorts lately. I, too, have been blah about training. Whether it’s the winter cold, iron deficiency, or just a cyclical thing – I hope it goes away soon for both of us! Maybe you could put on some headphones and tune out to some favorite music during your blood test?

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  • I’ve been feeling a little blah about training lately…I think I’m getting tired of the cold. Pushed through all winter and I’m ready for spring! But anyway…I was severely anemic in high school (doctor almost transfused me, and my thumbnails are still wacked out), and it was terrible. I was put on high doses of iron for a few months and that did the trick, but running was miserable until I recovered! We would fartlek and my “fast” was a slow jog and my “slow” was a walk…my coach pulled me off the track during a 3200 race and told me I wasn’t running again until I went to the doctor. White as a sheet and falling asleep in class…anemia explained it! I didn’t eat all that well (I swear I wasn’t hungry until I turned 18…no eating disorder, just never ate much), so that combined with running finally got to me, I think.

    Hope your blood tests come back okay! I’ve had mine checked a few random times when I’m feeling really run down and they’ve always been fine since…always in the back of my mind, however!

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  • Cedrick Fernholz says:

    ron can be supplemented by the oral route using various pharmacological forms, such as iron(II) sulfate (this is the most common and cheapest salt, e.g. Feratab, Fer-Iron, Slow-FE,…) and in complex with gluconate, dextran, carbonyl iron, and other salts. Sometimes ascorbic acid is added for better absorption.*.-’

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